Publication Year



ABM, Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty, United States, Soviet Union, politics, international relations


European History | International Relations | Military History | Military, War, and Peace | Political Science | United States History


As the preparations for a summit on arms control unfold, the significance and history of past negotiations and agreements become pertinent. Each party attempts to clarify its positions, determining areas of potential compromise and inflexibility. Varied communities within each party develop expectations of agreements. Scientists note the importance of negotiations for their technological developments and the way in which agreements can shape future technological demands. Political activist groups prepare for the attendant impact that agreements have on their causes. Political scientists and academicians evaluate possible results and policy implications. [...]

One of the most recent and disturbing examples of the decreased value placed on mutual agreements by the United States and the Soviet Union is the Reagan Administration's broad interpretation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Three presidential administrations after the signature of it, the Reagan Administration has denigrated the Treaty's role as an international law by asserting a new interpretation of the technologies prohibited by it.

This paper examines the legal arguments associated with the United States' reinterpretation, the clarifying evidence, and the analytical approach to the reinterpretation.